Family fishing trips have been around for generations. It’s one of those classic bonding opportunities, thanks to a combination of uninterrupted quality time with your child, days spent in nature, and participating in an activity together.
If you like the idea of going on a family fishing trip, here are six things to help you plan your expedition:
The sooner they start, the better
While it’s more challenging taking small children on a fishing trip, the fact is that the younger your child starts fishing, the more likely they are to develop a love for it and become passionate about it as they get older. If you want to take your four-year-old with you, though, you’ll need to adjust your expectations of the type of fishing you’ll do, where you’ll go and how long you’ll be out for. Younger kids mean shorter trips to nearby locations. If your kids are slightly older, you can start to plan longer, more ambitious expeditions.
Adjust your expectations
Taking your child on a fishing trip means far less fishing than if you were on your own or with other fishing friends. For starters, you’re dealing with hooks and delicate equipment, which require supervision from you. Then there’s also the shorter attention span: youngsters tend to be less patient than adults, so this may mean more frequent, shorter trips out onto the water than one long four-hour stint. If you prepare yourself for this though, you can still have an enjoyable trip, where you place importance on the experience of fishing with your child rather than simply what you catch.
Decide when to go
The time of year you’ll go and where you’ll go will depend on a variety of factors – how long it takes to get there (and the logistics and cost involved), school holidays, and when the right season is to fish. You’ll also need to consider weather conditions when you go – if you’re fishing at sea, for example, you’ll need to be especially careful that you’re not going out into dangerous conditions.
Think carefully about your destination. In Southern Africa, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to amazing fishing destinations, and the type of fishing you’ll do will obviously influence where you go. For example, Dullstroom in Mpumalanga, Du Toitskloof in the Western Cape and the KwaZulu Natal Midlands are all excellent locations for fly fishing.
If you want to add an extra dimension to your trip, something like tiger fishing on the Chobe River means you can combine a water safari experience with a fishing trip. The type of fishing you think your child is capable of will also influence where you go: a younger child, for example, would be more suited to catching smaller fish using simple bait like earthworms, whereas an older child may be able to handle the more physical demands of tiger fishing in a more challenging environment.
What gear will you bring?
Just like you’d buy junior golf clubs or tennis rackets for your children, invest in fishing rods and equipment that are specifically designed for kids (with lighter, shorter rods and smaller hooks, for example). You may be a gear junkie as an experienced fisherman, but your child will need the basics – after all, it’s more about the excitement of the activity than how fancy the equipment is. If you’re flying to your destination, only take what you really need. Many lodges have fishing equipment available for you to use, which means you can pack light.
Will you have a guide?
At places like Ichingo Chobe River Lodge (part of the Zambezi Queen Collection) on the Chobe River in Botswana, fishing guides are available to help you make the most of your fishing trip. If you’re with your children, guides can be hugely helpful in teaching them fishing techniques, teaching them more about the area they’re fishing in, as well as acting as an extra pair of eyes to supervise them while you’re on the boat.
Taking your child on a fishing trip can be an amazing way to discover a new place, teach your child a new skill and spend quality time with them without the distractions of everyday modern life. Some careful planning and adjusting your expectations are the key ingredients to creating a family fishing trip that’s really enjoyable – and that can form part of your family traditions, creating memories for years to come.